Egypt's most prominent activist granted bail

Secular figure Alaa Abdel Fattah to have retrial on charges of organising a protest transferred to another court.

    Egypt's most prominent activist granted bail
    Alaa Abdel Fattah was a leading secular figure in the 2011 revolt that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak [AP]

    Egypt's most prominent activist, who will face a retrial on a 15 year prison sentence for violating the country's protest law, has been granted bail, lawyers and relatives said.

    Lawyer Mohammed Abdel-Aziz said on Monday that Alaa Abdel Fattah, a leading secular figure in the 2011 revolt that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, is set to be released on Tuesday.

    He added that the judge presiding over the retrial has stepped down at the request of defence lawyers.

    "The judge said in his reasons for stepping down that it was prompted by a show of disrespect to court," Abdel-Aziz said.

    Last week, during the latest court session, Egyptian prosecutors presented a personal home video of Abdel Fattah's wife dancing as evidence against him, prompting an outcry from his lawyers that the material was irrelevant and defamatory.

    Most of the evidence presented consisted of videos clips from private TV stations showing various protests and police chasing unidentified civilians, although no scenes or footage of Abdel Fattah or any other defendant in the case were shown.

    Abdel Fattah's sentence was the harshest sentence given to secular activists amid an ongoing government crackdown that mainly targets supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    He was granted a retrial last month on charges of organising an unauthorised protest, beating a police officer and stealing his walkie-talkie last November.

    The clampdown on dissent surged in autumn 2013 after the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi following demonstrations urging his resignation.

    Morsi's supporters staged mass rallies and set up sit-ins in Cairo, which authorities violently cleared, leaving hundreds dead and tens of thousands jailed.

    A subsequent anti-protest law made any unauthorised demonstration a criminal offense and has been used to suppress both Islamist and secular activists.

    Abdel Fattah has been arrested several times including under Mubarak.

    He comes from one of Egypt's most prominent activist families. His sister Sanaa is also in jail for violating the same law and his father Ahmed Seif was a longtime human rights activist who was repeatedly jailed under Mubarak and who passed away in late August.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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